Ready or not Gen Z

Ready or Not, Here Comes Gen Z. Is your brand ready?

Look out Millennials, there are new cool kids in town! Generation Z – those born between 1995 and 2010 – now account for one third of the global population and represent $143 billion in spending power. With strong population representation comes strong consumer responsibility, and Gen Z takes the cake for putting their money where their mouth is.

It’s time for brands to meet Gen Z where they are and adapt their marketing and communication efforts to build long-lasting consumer relationships with these fiercely authentic, inclusive, digital natives.

Commit to Authenticity

When it comes to Gen Z, authenticity is everything. As a generation that grew up with technology and social media, Gen Z doesn’t shy away from researching, investigating and cross-referencing online sources to ensure their opinions are well-informed and they are making educated purchasing decisions. For brands, this means providing a wealth of information about your company and what you stand for, with proof to back it up. Gen Z can see through the fluff. They’re looking to buy from brands that talk the talk AND walk the walk. Whether it’s developing sustainable products, donating to charitable causes or promoting diversity, ensure that your brand is delivering and reporting measurable results to prove you’re committed to the cause — whatever cause that may be.

Individuality and Inclusivity

Diverse in ethnicity, sexual orientation and interests, Gen Z embodies the idea of individuality. Not wanting to be confined to the constructs of a dated perception of our society, Gen Z aims to pave their own path. It’s imperative that brands understand that Gen Z is complex and multifaceted – which means your brand strategy should be too. Avoid trying to appeal to one specific demographic and consider the defining characteristics of your target audience. Chances are there are quite a few things that make each audience unique, which means you’ll need to use a variety of strategies to effectively reach them.

It’s important for Gen Z to feel seen by brands. Not only do they often feel misunderstood by previous generations, but they also see right through traditional marketing efforts (in fact, they’d probably call traditional marketing “cheugy”). Just 8% of Gen Z reported they felt seen by marketers, which makes it obvious there’s room for improvement. This will require brands to dig deep and look for new ways to identify and target their ideal Gen Z audience. Whether it’s scouring social media, monitoring digital trends, or hosting a Gen Z focus group, there are a number of ways brands can research and gather feedback to fine-tune their brand strategy. This process may not be easy and can often be time-consuming, but it’s an important piece of the brand strategy puzzle.

Digital, Digital, Digital

From MySpace to TikTok, Gen Z is a generation made up of digital natives. They’ve grown up with the ability to Google or YouTube anything and everything. The world is at their fingertips. With that being said, you have to meet Gen Z where they are – on the internet. Throw out your printed pamphlets, mailers, and magazines. The best way to reach Gen Z is through targeted social media ads, influencer partnerships, and digital media. While fully embracing the digital world can seem like a beast, it’s not as scary as you might think. Social media platforms make it easy for you to create and manage your own ad campaigns, influencers serve as digital experts to help you tap into existing audiences, and digital media journalists can serve as your ally in broaching the digital realm.

New technologies like the Metaverse, virtual reality (VR), and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are gaining traction. However, these are still emerging technologies and may not be worth your while if you’re just beginning your digital journey. There is value in sticking to what you know, but it’s always good to stay up to date on emerging trends and technologies. Identify a digital strategy that works for your needs, budget and audience, but don’t be afraid to venture out and try new strategies and platforms.

Rebranding to Reach Gen Z

Now that we know the importance of authenticity, inclusivity, and embracing the digital world, it’s time to reflect on how these factors impact brand strategy. If you’re not already embracing these trends in your current strategy, it might be time to regroup, re-evaluate and potentially even rebrand. With Gen Z representing 27% of consumers in the U.S., and more to come as those born between 2005-2010 grow up, brands must adjust their strategy to stand the test of time.

Some recent examples of brands pivoting their brand strategy to reach Gen Z include:

  • Pac Sun recently launched what they’re calling a “metaverse experience” that includes virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), livestreaming and a video game. They’ve also partnered with Gen Z influencer Emma Chamberlin to further connect with Gen Z audiences.
  • McDonald’s is embracing Gen Z’s “energy and pulse” in their new McCafe campaign. Spotlighting the role coffee plays in fueling Gen Z, the campaign features high-energy music alongside high exposure pictures and film that embody the liveliness of Gen Z.
  • Notorious 1990s and early 2000s brand Abercrombie & Fitch launched a rebrand in 2020, embracing body positivity and inclusivity (which Gen Z loves).
  • Popular Millennial shoe brand Toms recently launched a new line of shoes targeting Gen Z. The Fenix line embodies the colorful and vibrant energy of Gen Z, while straying away from the traditional Toms design.

Rebranding isn’t anything new and it’s important to consider when discussing how to propel your brand into the future. Check out the Forbes 2022 rebranding trends to watch, as well as Adweek’s advice on how to rebrand in a digital era.

How NST Can Help

If you’re looking to re-evaluate and adjust your brand strategy to meet new consumer demands, we have your back! Our Compass branding process provides a comprehensive review of your current brand strategy, what changes need to be made, and how to implement it. Shoot us an email or give us a call to learn more.